Strategic Growth - Advisor
The composition of the workforce is changing dramatically, and so, the way we attract people we’d like to work for us must change dramatically too.
The proliferation of communication channels and ‘push’ marketing techniques mean people are exhausted with being marketed to! People are “overwhelmed by the sense that you’re being advertised to, and the images in front of you have been carefully selected to promote certain ideologies and modes of thought” says a moderator of Boring Dystopia II.
So, any organisation engaging with a potential customer or candidate needs to think carefully about communication if they’re to achieve the ultimate goal of building a fruitful relationship. We believe that the art of relationship building is more about ‘nurture’ than ‘push’.
As recruiters, who is our audience?
Know your audience is the first rule of marketing and it’s the same for recruiters too. Typically, we see very generic terminology used for groups of candidates (graduates, passive candidates, contingent workers etc. etc) and this suggests there’s an expectation for everyone to act the same. Rather than treating them like the individuals they/we are.
Our audience is more complex than ever. It’s diverse in so many dimensions, too many to classify people based on one or two characteristics. It’s comprised of multiple generations with different communication preferences and built around a whole new ecosystem of workers, as employers expect to increase their dependence on contract, freelance, and gig workers.
Many of our customers (candidates) are passive rather than active, in both the stage of their search and their level of engagement – the low UK unemployment means candidates are hard to come by and employers are (rightly) required to build confidence and engagement if they’re going to encourage the right talent to apply, interview and start on day one. And, our audiences is increasingly socially conscious. Just as consumers expect companies to have a strong moral and social compass, candidates want to work for an organisation with a strong social purpose too.
To understand how to connect with such a diverse audience of potential candidates and employees we can turn not only to marketing, but to psychology.
The psychology of recruitment
How do you build a relationship over time and ultimately encourage people to take decisions about a role? Why would they step into another industry or build a relationship with a brand? Why would talented individuals choose your organisation over another?
Just as behavioural economics can be used to influence buying decisions, to shape brand perception and customer behaviour, we can apply the same science to our world.
Behavioural economics research shows that while ‘push’ and ‘nudge’ marketing can be effective in influencing customer behaviour they don’t necessarily achieve the ultimate goal.
Motivational psychology that strengthens customers’ resolve and arms them with “the willpower and the knowledge needed to make virtuous choices on their own” is where marketing is really powerful.
By treating candidates as equals and empowering them, we can help them come to decisions about whether to build a relationship, engage with and eventually work with, a brand. The candidate is at the centre and drives interaction. This is the essence of a relational recruitment strategy.
Tips for a relational recruitment strategy
Appeal to difference. The new workforce ecosystem means organisations need to understand how to appeal to and engage with workers of all kinds. Some people like to talk, some people like to read, some people like to ask questions but in a low-key way, some people like to be open, some people like to stay hidden. It’s important to give people choice on how they’d like to engage.
Un-couple from job vacancies. Engage with people based on their potential value rather than on a job vacancy. This shifts the context to one of desires and aspirations specific to the person. Moving the engagement away from the ‘knife-edge application of a specific role’ with the clock ticking, means engagement becomes less pressured and more about long-term relationship building.
Social citizenship. Social enterprise is no longer a niche business model and social citizenship is a facet of working life that people want to connect with. Speaking out about inclusive growth, social impact and social purpose are part of an authentic employer brand. Talk to your talent pool about your organisation’s purpose.
Nurture not push
Galvanising a relational recruitment strategy requires a completely different discourse to traditional recruitment. A relationship-based strategy challenges the one-size-fits-all approach to communication, putting potential candidates at the centre and giving them the choice.